NAIROBI, KENYA: Information Cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru has, for the third time, refused to discuss events leading to the switching off of major private television stations in Kenya early February
Appearing before Senate ICT Committee, the CS said the matter was before a court of law court and a national security issue that he would not talk about it at the moment.
He however said the government is committed to press freedom.
“Just to be clear I am not hiding behind the clock but following the due process of the law. At the moment the matter is in court and I cannot discuss it in public,” said Mucheru adding that he was compelled to consider the national security processes before discussing the matter.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi doubling up as the Chair of the Committee reminded the CS of the shame the switch-off exposed the CS and the entire government to on January 30, 2018 and thereafter.
“We will be getting back to you as the incident does not reflect well on you, on us and on the entire country of ours.”
The Government shutdown of TV stations for defying a directive not to cover the live swearing-in of Opposition leader Raila Odinga was a big hit with international media which reported that Kenya was reversing its democratic gains.
Politicians, some of whom were instrumental in the second liberation of Kenya in the 1990s weighed in with Paul Muite and Koigi Wamwere terming the developments as unacceptable.
Raila was sworn in in a protest move against the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta which he has disputed.
The election was annulled by the Supreme Court following allegations of irregularities by Raila Odinga and the National Super Alliance. Uhuru Kenyatta won a repeat election ordered by the court in October, but Raila boycotted. Uhuru was sworn in for a second term last November.
The President is reported to have warned the media not to cover the event with the then Attorney General Githu Muigai warning that such a ceremony amounted to treason.
Speaking to KTN, Raila said the media ban “confirms we have descended to the level of Uganda”, which stopped media coverage during elections in 2016. Three privately owned television stations - NTV, KTN and Citizen TV - went off air on January 30.